Fla., Mich. congressmen complain DNC is silent on N.H. primary

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida and Michigan Democratic congressmen asked national party Chairman Howard Dean on Tuesday why he has said nothing about punishing New Hampshire if it moves up its presidential primary while their states may lose all their delegates.

A letter sent to the Democratic National Committee chairman said Florida had been receiving threats months before state Democrats said they would select their presidential delegates during the Jan. 29 primary set by a Republican-led Legislature and GOP governor.

But New Hampshire is talking about moving its Jan. 22 primary to stay ahead of Michigan’s Jan. 15 primary and South Carolina Republicans’ January 19 primary and the DNC is saying nothing, the letter said.

“Will the DNC now tell New Hampshire Democrats that they risk losing 100 percent of their pledged and unpledged delegates, in the same way Florida was threatened?” the letter asked.

The DNC has said Michigan will also be stripped of delegates if the state party uses the Jan. 15 primary signed into law this month to select its delegates.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has said the state will have to move its primary to no later than Jan. 8 because of the new Michigan law.

Democratic Party rules say states cannot hold their 2008 primary contests before Feb. 5, except for Iowa on Jan. 14, Nevada on Jan. 19, New Hampshire on Jan. 22 and South Carolina on Jan. 29.

Democrat candidates, including former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, have signed pledges that restrict campaigning in states that violate DNC rules. Florida has until Sept. 29 to come up with a new delegate selection plan.

The letter asks Dean if candidates will also be asked to restrict campaign activities in New Hampshire.

“We are proud Democrats, insisting on fairness, and we will fight the selective enforcement of our party’s Delegate Selection Rules,” said the letter which was signed by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and most of the states’ Democratic House members.

A DNC spokesman refused to comment on the letter.